Neural and behavioral correlates of visual recognition memory in 4- and 8-month-old infants

Charles A. Nelson, Paul F Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


The neural and behavioral correlates of the 4- and 8-month-old infant's ability to distinguish between frequently and infrequently presented familiar and novel events was examined. Cortical event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded as infants were familiarized to two faces. During the test trials that followed, one of these faces was presented frequently, and the other infrequently; on each of the remaining 20% of the trials, a previously unseen, novel face was presented. Following the ERP phase, infants' looking times were recorded to pairs of faces, some of which had been seen during the ERP testing, and some of which had not. At 4 months the ERP activity invoked by the three classes of events was similar, suggesting that infants were unable to distinguish among them. At 8 months the ERP activity differed only between the Infrequent Novel events and the two classes of familiar events, but did not differ between the frequently and infrequently presented familiar events. The ERP findings complement previously reported data from 6-month-old infants in describing a trend whereby infants become increasingly able to respond to stimuli on the basis of whether they have been seen before, and not on the basis of how often they had been seen. The behavioral data at both 4 and 8 months were less clear cut than the ERP data. These findings are discussed in the context of the neural and cognitive processes involved in dissociating probability information from novelty detection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-121
Number of pages17
JournalBrain and Cognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1992

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